Procedure : 2011/2024(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0373/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0373/2011

Debates :

PV 14/11/2011 - 17
CRE 14/11/2011 - 17

Votes :

PV 15/11/2011 - 7.14
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0490

REPORT     
PDF 249kWORD 185k
27 October 2011
PE 469.992v03-00 A7-0373/2011

on the implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC)

(2011/2024(INI))

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Rapporteur: Emma McClarkin

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC)

(2011/2024(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(1),

–   having regard to the European Parliament resolution of 19 February 2009 on the creation of a European professional card for service providers(2),

–   having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of 19 January 2006 in Case C-330/03, Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos (ECR 2006),

–   having regard to the EU Citizenship Report 2010 – Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights (COM(2010)0603),

–   having regard to the public consultation on Directive 2005/36/EC, launched by the Commission in March 2011,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020, A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–   having regard to Mario Monti’s report to the Commission of 9 May 2010 entitled ‘A new strategy for the Single Market’,

–   having regard to the hearing it held with national parliaments on 26 October 2010 on the transposition and application of Directive 2005/36/EC,

–   having regard to the study it commissioned on the recognition of professional qualifications (PE 447.514),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 October 2010 entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act, For a highly competitive social market economy’ (COM(2010)0608),

–   having regard to SOLVIT’s 2010 annual report on the development and performance of the SOLVIT network in 2010,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 April 2011 on a Single Market for Europeans(3),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 April 2011 entitled ‘Single Market Act, Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011)0206),

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 22 June 2011 on Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive (COM(2011)0367),

–   having regard to the Commission working document of 5 July 2011 on the summary of the responses to the public consultation on the modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive(4),

–   having regard to the Commission working document of 5 July 2011 on the evaluation of the Professional Qualifications Directive(5),

–   having regard to Rules 48 and 119(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and to the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0373/2011),

A. whereas changing demographics will make the mobility of professionals across the European Union increasingly important;

B.  whereas changing labour markets call for greater transparency, simplification and flexibility in the rules on the recognition of professional qualifications;

C. whereas professional mobility is a key factor for economic development and sustainable economic recovery;

D. whereas, according to the findings of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), demand for highly skilled workers is expected to rise by over 16 million jobs in the European Union between now and 2020;

E.  whereas the right to obtain employment or provide services in another Member State is a fundamental right under the Treaties and constitutes a concrete example of how citizens can benefit from the Single Market;

F.  whereas free movement of persons within the EU and the right to recognition of merit and professional skills will only exist when the invisible barriers that now exist have been reduced to a minimum and certain national rules that currently disproportionately hinder use of the right to skilled jobs have disappeared;

G. whereas ensuring that the system for recognition of professional qualifications is designed in the best possible way is a prerequisite for enabling everyone to fully enjoy the benefits of freedom of movement;

H. whereas the Single Market Act highlighted the fact that modernising the system for recognising professional qualifications is key to enhancing economic growth and boosting the confidence of members of the professions and of the public;

I.   whereas one of the main reasons for difficulties in recognising academic titles and professional qualifications is a lack of confidence in the criteria used for accreditation and granting academic qualifications in the country of origin, so that there is an urgent need to establish automatic recognition measures by removing prejudice and formal national obstacles to recognition;

J.   whereas some 100 000 decisions on recognition have been taken under the Directive since 2007, making mobility possible for 85 000 professionals(6);

K. whereas health professionals are the most mobile of the regulated professions in the EU, with some 57 200 doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, midwives and veterinary surgeons being granted recognition between 2007 and 2010;

L.  whereas there is still a gap between citizens’ expectations and reality, with more than 16 % of SOLVIT cases in 2010 relating to recognition of professional qualifications(7);

M. whereas it is difficult to identify the authority responsible for recognition of professional qualifications, the procedures relating to which are complex;

N. whereas the Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border health care requires that Member States of treatment ensure that information on the right to practise of health professionals listed in national or local registers established on their territory is made available to the authorities of other Member States, with an exchange of information taking place via the Internal Market Information system;

O. whereas SOLVIT cases relating to professional qualifications numbered 220 in 2010, with over two thirds of these cases emerging from just four Member States;

P.  whereas Directive 2005/36/EC consolidated rules set out in 15 previous directives adopted from the 1960s onwards;

Q. whereas Directive 2005/36/EC was not transposed on time by all the Member States, only being fully implemented three years after the original deadline;

R.  whereas the proper application of this Directive would reinforce the human dimension of the Single Market;

S.  whereas the introduction of a European professional card could simplify and speed up the process of recognising professional qualifications;

I. Simplification for citizens

1.  Believes that the free movement of a growing number of highly skilled persons and of workers is one of the key benefits of European cooperation and of a competitive internal market, an important factor in the development of economies across the EU and a right enjoyed by every EU citizen; firmly believes that workers mobility should be enhanced for citizens of the EU and that indirect barriers should be eliminated, provided that a balance is struck between mobility and the quality of professional qualifications;

2.  Encourages all initiatives that aim to facilitate cross-border mobility as a means to the efficient functioning of labour markets and a way of enhancing economic growth and competitiveness within the EU; recognises the need for modernisation of Directive 2005/36/EC in order to guarantee a clear, robust legal framework;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further encourage mobility among professionals; argues that the relatively low numbers of mobile professionals is cause for concern and suggests that strategies be devised to tackle this problem; underlines the result of the recent Eurobarometer survey according to which more than 50 per cent of young people in Europe are willing or keen to work abroad(8);

4.  Calls on Member States to promote the benefits of the directive among their citizens and professionals;

5.  Considers that dialogue between stakeholders with a view to regularly updating the requirements for initial training, recognition of experience and continuous professional development has an essential role to play in harmonising training; considers, moreover, that superimposing a ‘28th regime’ on national systems is not the way to resolve the issue of differences in training in a clear and satisfactory manner;

6.  Points out that the principle of partial access is seen as undesirable by the majority of respondents to the Commission’s public consultation, is difficult to monitor in practice and must be clarified; stresses, however, that partial access could have benefits, but only for those professions where tasks can be clearly demarcated; calls for a thorough evaluation of the principle, and for it to be applied on a case-by-case basis, but excluding regulated professions with health and safety implications;

7.  Welcomes the overall success of the automatic recognition procedure; stresses, however, that the recognition process under the general system based on professional experience is excessively cumbersome and time-consuming for both the competent authorities and those engaged in certain professions;

8.  Notes, while underlining the importance of the prior declaration system, that numerous concerns were raised in the Commission’s public consultation of 2011, and that measures to improve temporary mobility for professionals should therefore form a key aspect of the forthcoming revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive; calls for further clarification of the concept of temporary and occasional provision of services, bearing in mind that one definition covering all professions would be impossible to develop and would undermine subsidiarity;

9.  Argues that the competent authorities face difficulties in applying the prior declaration regime as there is no consistent approach to assessing the temporary and occasional nature of a service, and that it is extremely difficult to monitor the service providers’ activities on the ground; calls on the Commission to evaluate the current provisions set out in Article 7 of the directive and to explain further the question of existing case-law, with regard specifically to professions with public health and safety implications; calls on the Commission to present its conclusions to Parliament;

10. Stresses that Article 7(4) of the Directive, which allows Member States to carry out prior checks on qualifications for those professions related to health and safety and not already covered under automatic recognition, is considered essential by a vast majority of stakeholders; argues, however, that in order to enhance transparency, Member States should clarify which professions they consider to have health and safety implications;

11. Agrees with the Commission that the definition of ‘regulated education and training’ is too restrictive and may have an undue impact on temporary mobility for professionals; considers that the definition should encompass any training that allows a profession to be pursued in the Member State of origin;

12. Calls on the Commission to make it clear that a declaration for the purposes of temporary mobility should in principle be valid throughout the territory of a Member State, and to assess whether a yearly declaration is needed;

13. Calls for service providers who provide their services exclusively to consumers escorted by them to other Member States, and who therefore have no contact with local consumers in the host Member State (e.g. tour guides, trainers, medical personnel accompanying sportsmen or -women), to be exempted from the prior declaration requirement pursuant to Article 7; advocates this in the case of all services that do not concern public health and safety;

14. Calls on the Commission to coordinate and consolidate the various sources of information currently available on issues relating to the recognition of professional qualifications – including National Contact Points (NCPs) and professional bodies – with the Your Europe portal, which signposts the single points of contact currently available under the Services Directive; argues that this will provide professionals, in their own language, with a public interface where they can upload documents, access and print their professional card, and obtain up-to-date information on the recognition process, and administrative information on competent authorities, professional bodies and the documents to be submitted;

15. Argues that dialogue and exchanges of information within each individual profession must be enhanced, and that cooperation between the competent authorities and NCPs must be improved, at both national and intra-Member State level; calls on the Commission to facilitate networks of competent authorities and professional bodies for the most mobile professions, to exchange general information about national processes and education requirements, and to share best practice and investigate possibilities for deeper cooperation, such as common platforms; considers that public authorities and the social partners must engage in a structured dialogue on how to enhance the professional integration of young people;

16. Calls on the Member States to improve the efficiency of public authorities in providing information both about workers’ rights and about procedures for the recognition of professional qualifications, thereby reducing the deterrent effect of bureaucracy, as part of measures to boost mobility;

17. Calls on the Member States, therefore, to use modern communication technologies, including databases and online registration procedures, to ensure that the deadlines set under the general recognition system are met and that significant improvements are made in terms of access to information and knowledge of procedures;

18. Calls for a mandatory obligation for competent authorities to provide up-to-date contact information to all other competent authorities in their given profession;

19. Calls on the Commission to set guidelines regarding the time period within which an individual who has submitted a complete dossier should expect a decision from the competent authority; reducing this time period through greater use of IMI and optimising procedures would also facilitate mobility; calls on the Member States to provide sufficient resources to ensure professional recognition within a reasonable time period;

20. Calls on the Member States, the competent authorities and the Commission to provide for greater transparency, so that applicants or persons affected can be given a full explanation as to the reasons for the non-recognition of their diploma or professional qualification;

21. Argues that the current procedure for notification of new diplomas is too complex; calls on the Commission to facilitate notification of new diplomas and to update Annex V of the Directive in a more timely manner;

22. Urges the Member States, the competent authorities and the Commission to ensure that recognition of diplomas and certificates is on a par with recognition of professional qualifications, so as to create a genuine single market at European and international level and thereby avoid regulating what has already been regulated;

23. Stresses that compensation measures, which allow competent authorities to impose an aptitude test or an adaptation period of up to three years and which play an invaluable role in ensuring consumer and patient safety, must be reviewed in order to assess their suitability for resolving existing problems; calls for better explanations and for an evaluation of the Code of Conduct in order to assist competent authorities;

24. Calls for non-binding EU guidelines on the application of compensation measures to be devised in consultation with competent authorities, professional bodies, Member States and the European Parliament;

25. Stresses that it is particularly complicated and costly for the authorities to examine qualification levels pursuant to Article 11, and very difficult for citizens to understand; suggests that the five levels of qualification pursuant to Article 11 often lead to confusion with the eight levels of the European Qualifications Framework; agrees with the Commission that deleting Article 11 and Annexes II and III would mean that the competent authorities would no longer be required to determine the eligibility of an applicant according to pre-defined levels of qualifications but could focus on identifying whether there are substantial differences in training in order to decide whether compensation measures are necessary; notes, therefore, that deleting levels of qualification, including Annexes II and III, would considerably simplify the recognition process;

26. Points out that education and training systems still differ substantially from one Member State to another; takes the view, therefore, that periods usually spent at vocational schools as part of sandwich training should count towards the minimum periods of schooling required for certain professions;

27. Calls on the Member States and the competent authorities, with the support of the Commission, to institute studies with a view to establishing a European Competences, Qualifications and Occupations taxonomy in order to ascertain whether formal qualifications and occupations correspond to the same skills and qualifications in the various Member States and in order to develop a European analytical tool;

28. Takes the view that the Code of Conduct should be circulated more widely in order to ensure that the directive is implemented more effectively since this will promote uniformity in the way its provisions are interpreted;

II. Updating existing provisions

29. Calls on the Commission to reintroduce the mechanisms for dialogue among Member States, competent authorities and professional bodies with a view to updating, as regularly as possible and in line with scientific and technical developments, the minimum training requirements for the sectoral professions in order to reflect current professional practice, to update the current classification of economic activities based on professional experience, and to establish a simple mechanism for continually updating minimum training requirements; taking into account the future developments of the Bologna and Copenhagen Processes, urges the Commission to evaluate the introduction of a competence-based approach by defining minimum training requirements in terms not only of duration of training, but also of learning outcomes;

30. Urges the Commission not to fragment the process of modernising automatic recognition, as is suggested in the Green Paper, and to ensure that Parliament is given proper oversight when substantial changes are made to the directive;

31. Welcomes recent reforms undertaken as part of the Bologna process and the benefits this process provides for European students in terms of mobility and employability; encourages the European Commission to assist Member States in making the European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS) more transparent and comparable in order for ECTS to become an essential tool for facilitating the mutual recognition of qualifications and, ultimately, mobility;

32. Calls on the Commission to consider the importance of standardised learning outcomes and clinical competencies when setting out minimum training requirements;

33. Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of further extending the scope for automatic recognition in future;

34. Asks for further clarification of the proposed lengthening of the duration of general education as an admission requirement for nurse and midwife training;

35. Asks for further clarification of the proposed deletion of Article 21(4) of the Professional Qualifications Directive;

36. Calls on the Member States to carry out a comparison of minimum training requirements and to organise more regular exchanges among themselves, and also among the competent authorities, with a view to bringing minimum training requirements more closely into line;

37. Points out that the assessment of the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC requires a list to be drawn up of certificates or any other evidence of formal qualification recognised in one or more Member States but not recognised in other Member States; the list should also include cases where citizens who have obtained a degree in a Member State other than their state of origin are refused recognition in their own Member State when they return;

38. Highlights the high number of regulated professions in the European Union and calls on the Member States to reconsider the justification for the classification of certain professions, in order to ascertain whether formal qualifications and occupations correspond to the same skills and qualifications in all the Member States; considers that reducing the total number of regulated professions in the EU would enhance mobility; notes, however, that classification may be justified by consumer protection considerations, particularly in the case of the medical, legal and technical professions;

39. Argues that the most effective way of making free movement of professionals possible would be to reduce the number of regulated professions in the EU; calls on the Commission to include in a revised directive a mechanism whereby Member States can check their regulatory provisions, with the exception of those related to healthcare professions, and remove them if they are not proportionate;

III. Upgrading public health and safety

40. Argues that protection of consumer and patient safety is a vital objective in the context of the revision of the directive and that the success of this directive depends greatly on ensuring mobility while guaranteeing safety; draws attention to the special status of healthcare professionals;

41. Stresses that there have been serious problems associated with professionals continuing to practise in the EU despite being suspended or struck off;

42. Calls for the establishment, within the framework of the Internal Market Information System (IMI), for those professions not already covered under the Services Directive, of a proactive alert mechanism which would make it compulsory to issue an alert to all Member States when a regulatory action is taken against a professional’s registration or their right to provide services, on condition that the alert system contains no other information, respects the presumption of innocence and complies with existing data protection rules;

43. Points out that the public and patients need better assurances that healthcare professionals benefiting from recognition have kept their skills and knowledge up to date;

44. Highlights the call from stakeholders to place greater emphasis on continuous professional development (CPD), including (life-long) formal, non-formal and informal learning, and on the need to assess it; points out that global competition and the orientation towards a knowledge-based economy are creating new challenges for skills development and education; calls on the Commission, therefore, to explore methods of documenting all education, perhaps via European Skill Passports and the European Qualifications Framework, as well as IMI, and to devise a comparability table of the various CPD systems existing in the Member States; calls further on the Commission to evaluate whether an appropriate solution to the varying levels of CPD for healthcare workers might be compensation measures; encourages the competent authorities to provide information on CPD during the recognition process, to exchange best practices in this area and to exchange information on CPD, especially in respect of those sectors and Member States in which it is mandatory;

45. Stresses the importance of ongoing training being specifically tailored to the needs of the employment market in each of the Member States so as to ensure better use of training resources for those in employment;

46. Stresses that an extension of the recognition procedure to cover third-country qualifications may give rise to abuses of the system in the form of forum shopping, and would be extremely dangerous for the competent authorities in the host Member State;

47. Insists that, for healthcare professionals, the ability to communicate with colleagues and patients is fundamental in terms of avoiding dangerous or potentially life-threatening situations;

48. Takes the view that Article 53 of Directive 2005/36/EC, on language requirements, must be clarified, as there is ongoing controversy over the interpretation of this provision among the Commission, the ECJ and the Member States; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to revise the language requirement regime for the healthcare professions by providing the competent authorities with the necessary flexibility to ascertain and, only if necessary, test the technical and conversational language skills of professionals as part of the recognition process; considers that, without prejudicing the ability of employers to satisfy themselves regarding the language competence of professionals when recruiting to a particular post, the principle of proportionality should be scrupulously applied in this regard, so that such tests do not become an additional barrier;

49. Argues that language competence is crucial in facilitating a professional’s integration in another country, ensuring the quality of the services provided and protecting consumer and patient safety;

50. Stresses that, in order to protect patients, practitioners providing e-health services should offer the same quality and safety standards as in the provision of non-electronic healthcare services; it should therefore be clarified that the requirements of this directive and, if necessary, additional ones should apply to e-health service providers;

51. Points out that the development of e-health and of a remote healthcare system requires that, after their training, nurses and doctors are able to take care of patients of different nationalities, and that it will therefore be necessary to promote collaboration among training centres, hospitals and universities in different countries in the case of the professionals and graduates who have to take care of patients using these tools;

IV. Integrating professionals and injecting confidence into the system

52. Welcomes the results of the professional card pilot projects announced at the Single Market Forum in Krakow; insists that any professional card must be voluntary, should certify the academic and professional experience acquired and must be linked to the IMI system; believes that a professional card could be a useful tool to aid mobility for some professions, simplify administrative procedures and enhance safety; calls on the Commission, prior to the introduction of any card, to provide evidence of the possible added value for the recognition process; stresses that the introduction of any card must meet specific safety and data protection conditions, and insists that the necessary safeguards against abuse and fraud must be established;

53. Reiterates that if the EU is to reduce the uneven implementation and enforcement of Directive 2005/35/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications throughout the EU-27, all Member States need to have more confidence and faith in each other’s systems;

54. Supports the extension of the IMI to professions not yet covered by this information system, as set out in the proposal for a Regulation on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System(9) (the ‘IMI Regulation’), and to the professions which are not covered by Directive No 2005/36;

55. Calls for mandatory introduction of the IMI for competent authorities in order to facilitate proactive administrative cooperation and simplify recognition procedures; considers that the IMI could be further enhanced, for instance by expanding the features available in order to facilitate the work of national authorities; asks the Commission to put in place accompanying training and technical support measures in order to ensure that full use is made of the potential efficiency gains the system offers;

56. Calls for enhanced mobility of graduates and for compliance with the judgment in the Morgenbesser case(10); argues that Member States should encourage remunerated supervised practice for graduates from other Member States if they offer such a possibility to their own nationals; stresses, moreover, that the professional experience acquired during the supervised practice should be recognised in the home Member State;

57. Highlights the fact that the concept of common platforms, as outlined in Article 15 of the directive, has not been successful in that no such platforms currently exist; argues that they have the potential to be useful tools in facilitating mobility and that they should be defined and controlled by the professionals themselves; welcomes the Commission’s wish to improve this concept in a revised article; calls on the Commission to allow Member States the necessary flexibility to chose whether or not to take part in any common platform and to lower the threshold for Member State participation;

58. Argues that the introduction of any common platform should be made contingent on an internal market test and subject to parliamentary oversight;

59. Highlights the fact that this Directive should integrate data protection, in line with Directive 95/46/EC, and that revisions of this directive should also include developments in data protection provisions; notes that there should be up-to-date contact information for the part of the competent authority responsible for data management, and clear policies regarding the storage and use of a professional’s data, as well as guidelines for the correction of erroneous information

60. Notes that the negotiations between the EU and Switzerland have led to an agreement regarding the amending of Annex III of the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons so as to include Directive 2005/36/EC; notes that the agreement foresees a provisional application of most of the Directive, with the exception of Title II, which requires adaptations in Switzerland, and that the Council Decision regarding the abovementioned agreement will lapse if the Swiss fail to notify the completion of their internal procedures for the implementation of the Decision within 24 months of the adoption of the decision; is committed to following developments on this issue closely;

61. Calls on the Commission to ensure that any revised directive is properly transposed by the deadline set; urges the Member States to give the directive due priority;

62. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.

(2)

OJ C 76E, 25.3.2010, p. 42.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0145.

(4)

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/docs/news/20110706-summary-replies-public-consultation-pdq_en.pdf.

(5)

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/docs/news/20110706-evaluation-directive-200536ec_en.pdf.

(6)

European Commission, ‘Evaluation of the Professional Qualifications Directive’, Brussels, 5 July 2011.

(7)

European Commission, DG MARKT, SOLVIT 2010 Report: Development and performance of the SOLVIT network in 2010, (2011).

(8)

European Commission - Flash Eurobarometer, ‘Youth on the Move: Analytical Report’, May 2011.

(9)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System (‘the IMI Regulation’), COM(2011)522 final.

(10)

Court of Justice judgment of 13 November 2003, Case C-313/01, Morgenbesser, ECR I–13467.


OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (29.9.2011)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

on the implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC

(2011/2024(INI))

Rapporteur: Cabrnoch

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Believes that the free movement of a growing number of highly skilled persons and of workers is one of the key benefits of European cooperation and of a competitive internal market and an important factor for development of economies across the EU and a right enjoyed by every EU citizen; strongly considers that workers mobility should be enhanced among citizens of the EU and that indirect barriers should be eliminated, provided that a balance is struck between mobility and the quality of professional qualifications;

2.  Encourages all initiatives that aim to facilitate cross-border mobility as a means to the efficient functioning of labour markets and as a means to enhance economic growth and competitiveness within the EU; recognises the need for modernisation of Directive 2005/36/EC in order to guarantee a clear, robust legal framework;

3.  Urges the Commission to draw up a single European database, which will be supplied by Member States, regarding the job profiles that are either enshrined in law or applied in practice in Member States, which will be used by the unemployed and by workers, professionals, businesses, public authorities, etc., thereby facilitating mobility within the EU;

4.  Calls on Member States to improve the efficiency of public authorities in providing information both about workers’ rights and about procedures for the recognition of professional qualifications, thereby reducing the deterrent effect of bureaucracy, as part of measures to boost mobility;

5.  Is convinced that the number of regulated professions must be reviewed and could be gradually reduced and that the scope for automatic recognition of qualifications for new professions must be reviewed and if possible expanded, with special attention also being given to innovative sectors, to industrial and services sectors which provide a high degree of added value, develop cutting-edge technologies and offer strong growth potential and to digital industries;

6.  Calls on the Commission to lay the foundations for an ambitious system for the validation of the professional skills of all workers, so that the latter can obtain full or partial certification (diploma, vocational qualification, statement of professional standing) on the basis of their professional experience following validation by a panel of their knowledge and skills;

7.  Is aware of the need for further measures in the area of the recognition of professional qualifications, given that, despite genuine progress, a satisfactory degree of convergence has yet to be achieved in terms of the content of professional training courses in the Member States;

8.  Considers that special attention should be given at European level to the use of a European competence passport that can facilitate labour mobility and create more convergent educational systems to better support the demands of the labour market;

9.  Emphasises that the issue of the recognition of professional qualifications is closely bound up with the completion of the Bologna Process to establish a single European higher education area;

10. Emphasises that the Member States must continue to have the right to prevent the automatic recognition of inadequate qualifications at any time by imposing compensation measures;

11. Calls on the Member States to better coordinate their formal and informal educational systems in order to create a future labour force with comparative qualifications that can be beneficial to a European labour market and that can enhance productivity levels and competitive behaviour;

12. Calls on the Commission to establish a Community system for the validation of professional skills, taking as a model the university bachelors-masters-doctorate system, in order to make the labour market more transparent for employers and more accessible for job-seekers, who would thus be able to refer to a single legal basis;

13. Calls on the Commission for further improvement and proper use of the Internal Market Information System (IMI), in order to have a centralised and interoperable e-system of regulated professions that is transparent and easily accessible to competent public authorities, professional associations and appropriate stakeholders such as, for example, social partners, while safeguarding principles of data protection and respecting the subsidiarity principle;

14. Calls for an update of the list of activities and for examination of the rules on automatic recognition in specific areas, for example in the area of craft, trade and industry, and for a strengthening of the social partnership in the vocational training and higher education sectors; takes the view that in that connection the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) could provide suitable criteria;

15. Stresses the need for life-long learning, up-skilling and training; points to problems in the regulated professions concerning recognition of training acquired in another Member State;

16. Calls for Directive 2005/36/EC to take greater account of continuing training;

17. Calls on the Commission, the Member States and all concerned stakeholders to cooperate more effectively in developing a common standard of registration which lays down which professions are to be regulated and how and to facilitate the use of this system by linking it with the EURES network;

18. Is convinced that an obligatory register, which should be made accessible to all the relevant authorities in the Member States, is necessary in order to monitor persons whose professional licence has been revoked within any Member State; highlights that a stronger interconnection between the Member States and the European institutions and particularly an extension and proper utilisation of the IMI system, which would include a proactive alert mechanism, could be a solution and would strengthen the confidence of the authorities and of the public in the system;

19. Welcomes the Commission’s proposal in its Green Paper to introduce an IMI alert mechanism for competent authorities to share information regarding health professionals; urges the Commission to ensure that Member States are obliged to immediately and proactively inform each other when regulatory action is taken against health professionals’ registration or their right to provide services;

20. Believes that systematic language testing should not act as a burden on foreign professionals who wish to access labour markets and therefore calls for a pragmatic approach to language tests where recognition is possible without proof of language requirements; takes the view, however, that employers must be able to insist on and test the minimum levels of language knowledge required to perform a specific job and at the same time believes that further consideration should be given to language rules applicable to health professionals who have direct contact with patients;

21. Supports initiatives that aim to adapt training systems to current labour market requirements, scientific and technical progress, clarify and unify minimum education and training requirements and improve the system of notification and insertion of new specialities into the directive;

22. Believes that it is crucial to better prepare graduates to respond to requirements of labour markets, therefore supports the idea of extending the benefits of the directive to graduates who wish to complete a period of remunerated supervised practical experience in the profession abroad;

23. Calls for general simplification, improvement of effectiveness and greater transparency of the administrative processes involved and for a reduction of the costs, in order to facilitate and speed up the recognition of professional qualifications and, in this way, ensure that the free movement of persons is not hampered; calls on the Member States to introduce operational coordination, monitoring and review mechanisms;

24. Recognises the possible benefits of the introduction of the European Professional Card in terms of acceleration and simplification of recognition procedures; argues, however, that the introduction of any card must be preceded by thorough impact assessments and detailed evaluation studies and provide adequate data protection for professionals; is of the view also that the IMI could facilitate much faster cooperation between the issuing Member State (the professional’s departure) and the receiving Member State (the country where the professional seeks establishment);

25. Points out that the use of a professional card also makes sense for professions for which there are no minimum training requirements valid throughout the EU and thus no automatic recognition arrangements; with that aim in view, considers that the Member States should lay down the requirements governing the eligibility to exercise professions and decide what, if any, compensation measures they will impose on professionals from other Member States;

26. Points out that education and training systems still differ substantially from one Member State to another; takes the view, therefore, that periods usually spent at vocational schools as part of sandwich training should count towards the minimum periods of schooling required for certain professions;

27. Is categorically opposed to any move to make the code of practice legally binding, on the grounds that its voluntary nature enables Member States to implement recognition procedures in a flexible manner;

28. Calls on the Commission for a revision of Article 11 of Directive 2005/36/EC to reduce the number of regulated professions in order to allow more flexibility in recognition procedures, changing the bureaucratic procedures of recognition based solely on academic records, and to move towards a general recognition of qualifications;

29. Emphasises that the Member States should continue to be allowed to impose compensation measures, in particular adaptation courses, in order to offset significant disparities in the content of training;

30. Is adamant that the revision of the directive on the recognition of professional qualifications must not lead to the abolition of the requirement that members of regulated professions must notify the competent authorities the first time they move from one Member State to another in order to provide services; takes the view that any such abolition would seriously undermine the arrangements for supervising professions;

31. Points out that the Bologna Process should be speeded up, leaving the small barriers behind and overcoming irrelevant obstacles, thereby ensuring that the process works well;

32. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to note that, in order to create a real internal market for professionals, recognition of certificates and any other evidence of formal qualification is necessary, in the same way as recognition of professional qualifications, since, in order to be able to work in positions which have civil responsibility or in public services, the evidence of formal qualification first needs to be approved by the competent authority;

33. Points out that the assessment of the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC requires the drawing-up of a list of certificates or any other evidence of formal qualifications that are recognised in one or more Member States but are not recognised in other Member States; the list should also contain cases where citizens of a Member State who have studied at a university in another Member State find that their degrees are not recognised in their country of origin;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

26.9.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

30

17

0

Members present for the final vote

Regina Bastos, Edit Bauer, Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Pervenche Berès, Mara Bizzotto, Philippe Boulland, Milan Cabrnoch, David Casa, Alejandro Cercas, Ole Christensen, Derek Roland Clark, Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Tadeusz Cymański, Frédéric Daerden, Proinsias De Rossa, Frank Engel, Sari Essayah, Richard Falbr, Ilda Figueiredo, Marian Harkin, Roger Helmer, Nadja Hirsch, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Danuta Jazłowiecka, Martin Kastler, Ádám Kósa, Patrick Le Hyaric, Veronica Lope Fontagné, Olle Ludvigsson, Thomas Mann, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Csaba Őry, Siiri Oviir, Rovana Plumb, Sylvana Rapti, Licia Ronzulli, Elisabeth Schroedter, Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska, Jutta Steinruck, Traian Ungureanu

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Raffaele Baldassarre, Jelko Kacin, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Antigoni Papadopoulou, Emilie Turunen, Cecilia Wikström, Tatjana Ždanoka


OPINION of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (7.10.2011)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

on the implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC

(2011/2024(INI))

Rapporteur: Mario Pirillo

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its motion for a resolution:

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 22 June 2011 entitled ‘Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive’ (COM(2011)0367),

–   having regard to the Commission’s Communication of 3 March 2010 on ‘EUROPE 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–   having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications,

–   having regard to the report on the first assessment of the directive,

–   having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of 19 January 2006 in Case C-330/03, Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos (ECR 2006),

–   having regard to the EU Citizenship Report 2010 - Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights (COM(2010)603),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the public consultation on Directive 2005/36/EC, launched by the Commission in March 2011,

A. whereas the right of EU citizens to establish themselves, to provide services or to pursue a profession in a Member State other than the one in which their professional qualification was issued is a fundamental freedom of the internal market;

B.  whereas it is difficult to identify the authority responsible for the recognition of professional qualifications, the procedures relating to which are complex;

C. whereas there is a need for the current system of automatic recognition also to take into consideration whether the professional is allowed to practise or prevented from practising in the Member State of origin;

D. whereas in Europe it is estimated that, by 2020, the shortage of health-care professionals, including doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and other paramedical staff will amount to one million and that, in order to increase mobility, the recognition of qualifications needs to be quick and efficient, also for workers whose qualifications are automatically recognised;

E.  whereas the free movement of persons within the EU and the right to the recognition of merit and professional skills could only exist if the existing invisible barriers were limited, and whereas some national rules that nowadays disproportionately hinder the use of the right to qualified jobs will disappear;

F.  whereas the Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border health care requires that Member States of treatment ensure that information on the right to practise of health professionals listed in national or local registers established on their territory is made available to the authorities of other Member States, with an exchange of information taking place via the Internal Market Information system;

G. whereas one of the main reasons for the difficulties with recognising academic titles or professional qualifications is the lack of confidence in the criteria for the accreditation and the academic certificates of the country of origin, so that it is urgent to establish measures for automatic recognition by removing prejudices and formal national obstacles to recognition;

H. whereas the mobility of professionals in the health sector should also take into account the need for an overall sustainable health workforce and the sustainability of national health-care systems;

1.  Is in favour of modernising and improving Directive 2005/36/EC and encourages the use of the most efficient and appropriate technologies, such as the introduction of a European professional card, which would be on a voluntary basis and should be an official document recognised by all competent authorities, in order to facilitate the recognition process. The professional card should contain accurate and up-to-date information and should be secure and fraud-proof, while respecting the protection of personal data; emphasises that a more comprehensive use of the Internal Market Information system (IMI) could facilitate much faster cooperation and exchange of information between the issuing Member State (the professional’s country of departure) and the receiving Member State (the country where the professional seeks establishment);

2.  Calls on the Commission to undertake an in-depth impact assessment and a cost benefit analysis prior to any proposal establishing a professional card for use by health-care professionals, which would also appraise its practical implementation and added value to the recognition process;

3.  Highlights numerous concerns raised in the public consultation about the professional card; argues that the introduction of any professional card must be voluntary for both the professional and the competent authority;

4.  Stresses the need to ensure that transposition and implementation of the directive is concluded in all Member States;

5.  Takes the view that recognition and registration of professionals, particularly in the health sector, must guarantee the safety of patients and consumers;

6.  Approves of the revival of common platforms, which will enable countries that are members of the platform to recognise qualifications more quickly, and appreciates the possible reduction to one-third of Member States, with others able to join subsequently; calls on the Commission, however, to carefully assess, prior to a reshaping of the platforms, the possibility of introducing a 28% system;

7.  Hopes that the Member States and competent authorities will be promptly notified of the new qualifications that are to benefit from automatic recognition;

8.  Calls on the European Commission to draw up guides to best practices in the professional training field;

9.  Stresses that patient safety must be the guiding principle in all provisions on the free movement of health-care professionals;

10. Stresses the need to develop a sustainable workforce in the field of health-care services, by framing staff recruitment and retention policies for health-care systems and promoting gender equality and lifelong education and vocational training, while also placing emphasis on improving working conditions;

11. Urges the Commission to introduce a more robust and proactive alert mechanism than the one provided for in the Services Directive, specifically for health-care professions, in order to ensure patient safety. The proactive alert mechanism should be incorporated into an improved and strengthened Internal Market Information (IMI) system in order to facilitate swifter cooperation and the rapid exchange of information between Member States and competent authorities on any prior disciplinary sanctions, including any suspensions imposed on health-care professionals; this mechanism must be supported by a duty for national authorities to exchange registration and disciplinary information about health-care professionals;

12. Would like every Member State to establish an on-line access point containing full and permanently-updated information on the names of the competent authorities and on the documentation required for the recognition of health professionals’ qualifications, so that such professionals can swiftly complete the on-line the procedures needed for their professional qualifications to be recognised;

13. Encourages the Member States to review and improve the minimum duration of professional training for health-care professionals, in particular nurses and midwives, and for the minimum training requirements to be adapted to satisfy complex healthcare needs; however, believes that time spent in training is not in itself a sufficient guarantee of fitness to practise, and that time spent in practice should also be taken into account;

14. Calls on the Commission to consider the importance of standardised learning outcomes and clinical competencies when setting out minimum training requirements;

15. Stresses the need for the Member States to organise exchanges of good practice with a view to guaranteeing the quality of healthcare services provided to patients;

16. Considers that the extension of partial access and the partial recognition of training should not apply to those regulated professions with health and safety implications, in order to ensure that the protection of the public is not compromised;

17. Stresses the need to update the current set of minimum professional training standards in line with scientific and technical progress;

18. Calls for further clarification and guidance on the provision of services on a temporary or occasional basis; acknowledges that competent authorities face difficulties in applying the existing regime;

19. Takes the view that thorough assessments need to be carried out concerning the professional’s knowledge of the language of the host country, by conducting language tests to verify that applicants possess an in-depth command of the language, including technical and scientific language, for the specific purpose of pursuing a health-care profession by engaging in direct contact with patients or any professional staff. Receiving Member States should have flexibility in developing and carrying out language assessments. (Also calls on the Commission to clarify the respective roles of employers and regulators in testing language competence;

20. Stresses that the rapid pace of innovation in the environmental sciences and industry requires an open attitude on the part of European and national authorities in order to accept new skills, qualifications and academic studies and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and innovation. Therefore, it is necessary that the EU and Member States facilitate lifelong learning for professionals and officials working in the eco-industry or environmental sectors, as this will strengthen the takeover capacity and implementation of scientific or technical developments;

21. Points out that patients and the public need better assurances that healthcare professionals benefiting from recognition have kept their skills and knowledge up to date, as laid down in the national legislations and requirements of the Member States where they seek recognition;

22. Considers that the provision of temporary and/or occasional services creates problems for the competent authorities in terms of implementing the temporary regime; calls on the Commission, therefore, to clarify matters in order to prevent temporary establishment becoming a means of avoiding the complex procedures under the general system;

23. Points out that the rapid evolution of industrial production, and the knowledge needs raised by science, has led to the emergence of new academic titles or qualifications that did not exist before in many European countries. Therefore, urges the competent authorities of the Member States to recognise academic tittles even if a similar title does not exist in their own country. As a result, professionals who bring new knowledge and experience can act as drivers of change and renewal in industry;

24. Points out that the development of e-health and of a remote health-care system requires that, after their training, medical professionals will be able to take care of patients of different nationalities. It would therefore be necessary to promote collaboration between training centres, hospitals and universities in different countries for the professionals and graduates who have to take care of the patients through these instruments;

25. Points out that, although the Single Market Act calls for a review of the scope of regulated professions, in the healthcare sector it is necessary to ensure patient safety through clear regulation of skills, training needs and responsibilities. In this regard, it should be possible for professions that are recognised in other countries, such as chiropractic or acupuncture, to be included in the list of titles and professional qualifications of the Directive, in order to enrich the services offered to patients and to ensure public control in the exercise of these professions;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

4.10.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

54

0

5

Members present for the final vote

János Áder, Elena Oana Antonescu, Kriton Arsenis, Sophie Auconie, Pilar Ayuso, Paolo Bartolozzi, Sandrine Bélier, Sergio Berlato, Milan Cabrnoch, Nessa Childers, Chris Davies, Bairbre de Brún, Esther de Lange, Anne Delvaux, Bas Eickhout, Edite Estrela, Jill Evans, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Elisabetta Gardini, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Françoise Grossetête, Satu Hassi, Jolanta Emilia Hibner, Dan Jørgensen, Karin Kadenbach, Christa Klaß, Holger Krahmer, Jo Leinen, Corinne Lepage, Peter Liese, Kartika Tamara Liotard, Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, Miroslav Ouzký, Vladko Todorov Panayotov, Gilles Pargneaux, Antonyia Parvanova, Mario Pirillo, Pavel Poc, Vittorio Prodi, Frédérique Ries, Anna Rosbach, Oreste Rossi, Carl Schlyter, Horst Schnellhardt, Richard Seeber, Theodoros Skylakakis, Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu, Salvatore Tatarella, Anja Weisgerber, Åsa Westlund, Sabine Wils

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Tadeusz Cymański, Matthias Groote, Alojz Peterle, Marianne Thyssen, Thomas Ulmer, Marita Ulvskog, Kathleen Van Brempt

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Arlene McCarthy


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

17.10.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

32

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Cristian Silviu Buşoi, Lara Comi, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, António Fernando Correia De Campos, Jürgen Creutzmann, Cornelis de Jong, Christian Engström, Evelyne Gebhardt, Malcolm Harbour, Iliana Ivanova, Sandra Kalniete, Kurt Lechner, Hans-Peter Mayer, Gianni Pittella, Mitro Repo, Robert Rochefort, Heide Rühle, Christel Schaldemose, Andreas Schwab, Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, Bernadette Vergnaud, Barbara Weiler

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Ashley Fox, Anna Hedh, María Irigoyen Pérez, Othmar Karas, Constance Le Grip, Emma McClarkin, Antonyia Parvanova, Konstantinos Poupakis, Olga Sehnalová, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, Anja Weisgerber

Last updated: 3 November 2011Legal notice